• Associations between postpartum fertility phenotypes and genetic traits in seasonal-calving, pasture-based lactating dairy cows

      Rojas Canadas, E.; Herlihy, M.M.; Kenneally, J.; Grant, J.; Kearney, F.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF13S528 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2019-10-01)
      The objective of this study was to evaluate the associations between corpus luteum (CL) status, uterine health, body condition score (BCS), metabolic status, and parity at wk 3 and 7 postpartum in seasonal-calving, pasture-based, lactating dairy cows. The associations between those phenotypes and individual genetic traits were also evaluated. First- and second-parity spring-calving lactating dairy cows (n = 2,600) from 35 dairy farms in Ireland were enrolled. Farms were visited every 2 weeks; cows that were at wk 3 (range 14 to 27 DIM) and wk 7 (range 42 to 55 DIM) postpartum were examined. Body condition score was measured using a scale of 1 to 5 with 0.25 increments. Transrectal ultrasound examination was performed at wk 3 and 7 postpartum to determine presence or absence of CL and ultrasound reproductive tract score. Blood samples were collected at each visit and the concentrations of glucose, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and fatty acids (FA) were analyzed by using enzymatic colorimetry. Cows were grouped into 3 BCS categories [low (≤2.5), target (≥2.75 and ≤3.25), and high (≥3.5)]; 2 CL status categories: (present or absent); 2 uterine health status (UHS) categories (normal and abnormal); and 3 metabolic status categories [good (high glucose, low fatty acids and BHB), poor (low glucose, high fatty acids and BHB), and moderate (all other combinations)]. Fisher's exact test was used to test associations between variables and was supplemented by logistic regression. We found associations between UHS (wk 3 and 7), BCS (wk 3 and 7), parity (wk 3 and 7) metabolic status (wk 3), and predicted transmitting ability for calving interval (PTA for CIV; wk 3) and CL status. Cows that had abnormal UHS, low BCS, primiparity, and poor metabolic status, and were in the quartile with the greatest PTA for CIV were less likely to have had CL present at wk 3 and 7 postpartum. We also found associations between CL status (wk 3 and 7), BCS (wk 3 and 7), parity (wk 3 and 7), and PTA for CIV (wk 3) and UHS. Cows that did not have a CL present had low BCS, primiparity, and that were in the quartile with greatest PTA for CIV, had a greater risk of abnormal UHS at wk 3 and 7 postpartum. We observed strong associations between CL status, UHS, BCS, metabolic status, parity, and individual genetic traits at wk 3 and 7 postpartum in seasonal-calving, pasture-based lactating dairy cows. Achieving target BCS and good metabolic status, and selecting cows based on PTA for CIV, are all expected to increase the likelihood of hastening the resumption of estrous cyclicity and enhancing uterine health during the postpartum period.
    • Associations between postpartum phenotypes, cow factors, genetic traits, and reproductive performance in seasonal-calving, pasture-based lactating dairy cows

      Rojas Canadas, E.; Herlihy, M.M.; Kenneally, J.; Grant, J.; Kearney, F.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, S.T.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 13S528 (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-01)
      The objective of this study was to evaluate associations between corpus luteum (CL) status, uterine health, body condition score (BCS), metabolic status, parity, genetic merit for fertility traits, and reproductive performance in pasture-based dairy cows managed for seasonal reproduction. First- and second-lactation (n = 2,600) spring-calving dairy cows from 35 dairy farms located in Ireland were enrolled in the study. Farms were visited every 2 wk, and animals that were at wk 3 (range: 14–27 d in milk) and wk 7 (range: 42–55 d in milk) postpartum were examined. Body condition score was measured using a 1-to-5 scale in 0.25-point increments. Transrectal ultrasound examination was performed at wk 3 and 7 postpartum to determine presence or absence of CL and ultrasound reproductive tract score (scale of G1–G4). Blood samples were collected at each visit, and the concentrations of glucose, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and fatty acids (FA) were analyzed using enzymatic colorimetry. Animals were grouped into 3 BCS categories [low (≤2.5), target (2.75–3.25), and high (≥3.5)], 2 CL categories (present or absent), 2 uterine health status categories (normal or abnormal), and 3 metabolic status categories [good (high glucose, low FA and BHB), poor (low glucose, high FA and BHB), and moderate (all other combinations)]. Fisher's exact test was used to test for associations between variables and was supplemented by logistic regression. More cows with a CL at wk 7 were served during the first 21 d of the breeding period compared with cows without a CL. Cows classified as having a uterine score of G3 or G4 at wk 3 and 7 had lower odds of pregnancy establishment during the breeding period compared with animals with a uterine score of G1 or G2. Animals with low BCS at wk 7 had lower odds of pregnancy establishment than cows with a target BCS. Cows classified as having good metabolic status at both wk 3 and wk 7 had greater odds of pregnancy establishment during the first 21 d of the breeding season than those classified as having poor metabolic status. Overall, primiparous cows had greater reproductive performance than second-parity cows. Animals in the quartiles with the best predicted transmitting ability for survival and calving interval had better reproductive performance compared with animals in the other quartiles. Cows that had better genetic merit for fertility traits and good metabolic status, achieved target BCS, and had a favorable ultrasound reproductive tract score and a CL present at wk 7 postpartum had superior reproductive performance.